Thread Number: 44144  /  Tag: 50s/60s/70s Vacuum Cleaners
1st restore of this year
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Post# 459727   1/24/2023 at 14:41 (456 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        

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Last year I sold some Kirby's to help pay for a trip to California. I sold an extra 505 I had and an extra 510 as well. I also sold the first one from my collection my 512.

I picked up this 512 on eBay and look forward to digging into this one and add it back to my collection. It's a little rough around the edges, but I have worked on much worse. Also, on that trip I gave my brother the 508 from my collection in the form of one of my Kirby lamps. I'm hoping to find another 508 to restore as well.

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Post# 459729 , Reply# 1   1/24/2023 at 17:57 (456 days old) by KirbyClassicIII (Milwaukie, Oregon)        

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I wonder if the very last 512s went out with the same red bumpers for the headlight trim and nozzle as Kirby was getting the 513 ready for release?

The 512 was the last Kirby to have the gray trim for the headlight and nozzle and the open-ended brush roll, as well as the toggle-type on/off switch; the 513 replaced that with the "push/push" button switch (as described in its manual) that Kirby still uses today, and also had the new-style rug plate and brush roll that ran up to and including the Dual Sanitronic 80 (and also the 1982-84 COMVAC 1300).


Post# 459731 , Reply# 2   1/24/2023 at 22:53 (456 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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There are 3 amp toggle switch 513's. The vents by the fan are different. 513-515 nozzles I'm pretty sure doesn't fit 1956 and later kirbys.
Jim thats a sweet vacuum. I seen it on ebay and I like how the switch is red.
I bought a 511 tonight original except handle grip, and the cord. The bag on its in excellent condition. I have a cord and I may have a handle.
I'm pretty sure you will restore yours before I do. I should be done with schooling and tests. I
I'll hopefully try and do all my older kirbys at the same time.
Here is a hairball idea. Get plaster of Paris and put a kirby handle grip in the plaster. Then break apart the mold and take off the handle grip and put the metal handle in the plaster mold and pour in plastic dip and you have a nice handle.
I'm also wondering if you made a plaster cast on the bell part of the cord. Then put a grey or black cord and either plasti dip and you have a cord.

You could do the same for the wheels. If I had a 3d printer I could actually make all of the above. I'm just thinking out loud. Imagine red wheels exactly like the black wheels.
The 505 bag topper cover and reproducing that.
Keep us updated on the build. I'm attaching pics I bought of the 511.
My 511 doesn't have a sweet aire cap.

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Post# 459736 , Reply# 3   1/25/2023 at 07:52 (455 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        
Ben and Les

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It's quite posable that the last 512's came with red trim knowing how Kirby did things I wouldn't be surprised. I do have an extra nozzle with the original gray trim on it to replace this one.

That looks like a nice 511 Les it's hard to see the bag, but it looks original that's a good thing. I will most likely remove the red paint on the switch I've never seen one come that way before.

I like your plaster of Paris idea "nothing ventured nothing gained" I have a friend with a 3D printer and may ask him about making some sweet-air caps I'll keep you guys informed.

Thank you both.

Post# 459741 , Reply# 4   1/25/2023 at 14:40 (455 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        
date stamp and ID plate

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I tore down the 512 this morning and looked at the armature to see if the manufacturing date was stamped on it, and sure enough it was dated August of 52. I was also very pleased to see how good the ID plate looked after removing it from the fan housing.

The front bearing plate came apart in my hands, but the rear bearing looked good after cleaning it up now it just needs to be repacked. I have a new front bearing plate ready to go. Pictured is the armature showing the date stamp and ID plate.

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Post# 459747 , Reply# 5   1/25/2023 at 16:22 (455 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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Armature out of my vacuette is pic below.
The bag is in great shape.

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Post# 459756 , Reply# 6   1/25/2023 at 21:51 (455 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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I'm reading some archives posts. I was a effing a hole to you. I apologize again. Ypu do awesome restorations. You know quite a bit about kirbys and glad we're getting along to help people. Again I'm sorry, me being ace hole was the reason I stepped away because I wasn't helping and rude.

Post# 459764 , Reply# 7   1/26/2023 at 07:54 (454 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        

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Thank you so very much for your apology and kind words. Apology excepted indeed. I have no doubt you and I can work together to help others make the most of their hobby and share in the love for our old Kirby's. Thanks again Les, and I look forward to working with you...."Friends"!

Am I reading your armature right is the date April 1930? wow!!


Post# 459804 , Reply# 8   1/27/2023 at 09:02 (453 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        

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I got the parts ready for cleaning. I have an extra nozzle with the original gray trim. I always wait until I have original trim for the Kirby's in my collection. The light cap trim is split in the corner, this is quite common but easy to fix.

I use UV light glue to repair these it's easy and works well. After cleaning then sanding and polishing. The emptor and emptor tray are in great shape, but it does need a new gasket.

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Post# 459837 , Reply# 9   1/29/2023 at 07:32 (451 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        

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I started washing the parts yesterday and noticed that the nozzle axel on the front axle plate and safety switch housing. had been replaced and whoever did the work did not do a very good job and the nozzle axel looks a little rough. I'm going to replace it. Pictured the one on the left is the one I'm replacing. I'm going to keep it just in case I have a need for another one in the future. It is useable, but I always try to use the best parts I can find on the Kirby's in my collection.

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Post# 459869 , Reply# 10   1/30/2023 at 13:00 (450 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        
She's coming along.

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Fortunately, the motor housing and switch housing where in good shape and didn't require sanding. I always put the motor together first to make sure it runs well before putting all together. It cleaned up nicely with steel wool and runs well so time to clean up and polish the rest.

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Post# 459894 , Reply# 11   1/31/2023 at 06:59 (449 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
Hi Jim,

I was wondering have you ever had to repair/replace the handle spring mechanism on any of these early 500's. About 20 years ago I got my first 510. The handle wouldn't stay up. My Kirby repair guy said he couldn't fix it but his brother in law could. He said there were only a couple people in the bay area that he knew of that could fix these.

Any other models after the changes made, no problem. I don't know if he was yanking me, I doubt it. I'm glad I got it fixed in any case. Looking forward to seeing your first restore of the year,always a feast for the eyes! Billy

Post# 459899 , Reply# 12   1/31/2023 at 08:07 (449 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        
Thanks Billy

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I have the tools to do the job, but truth be told I never was able to master the skill to replace the handle spring. Sad story my Kirby 2C needed to have the handle spring replaced. Kent Oyler asked me if the handle stayed in the up position. I said yes and he told me "I would just leave it as is".

I didn't listen and took it to a Kirby dealer to replace it. He ended up breaking the motor housing trying. He warned me that could happen. I was sick over it. It now sits in my shop for parts. I might try to repair it someday.

Other than that, I've been lucky when it comes to the older handle springs.


Post# 459968 , Reply# 13   2/2/2023 at 09:33 (447 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        

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The light cap on this 512 needs some sanding to remove the deep scratches, this is always a little bit of a challenge.

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Post# 459979 , Reply# 14   2/2/2023 at 13:53 (447 days old) by kirbyklekter (Concord,Ca.)        
fan pulley question

Hi Jim, I was looking at your fan pulley which wear wise looks identical to mine,original. I was told that the tip is wearing down and could result in slippage down the road. I haven't seen a new belt pulley for my 510 or 512 so I can't compare. I know that replacing a pulley with new made all the difference on a couple Eurekas and a hoover. They,the Kirby's run great and since not my daily drivers, haven't changed them out as of yet.

Nice light bulb there, is that led or halogen or? .....Billy

Post# 459991 , Reply# 15   2/2/2023 at 17:59 (447 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        

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The light I use is a simple 15-watt appliance incandescent light. You can also use a 25-watt appliance light. As far as the fan pulley go's it's never been a problem before but having said that I don't use any of the vacuums from my collection as daily drivers.


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Post# 460030 , Reply# 16   2/3/2023 at 17:36 (446 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        
Kent Oyler

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Every time I install the light cap trim on a Kirby now, I think about our friend Kent Oyler. I had bought some replacement rivets from him, but I didn't have the proper tool to install them. I used a small Phillips screwdriver. I asked Kent what he used, and he told me he used a rivet tool from the Tandy CO., and I could buy one there.

When I told him we didn't have one here where I live, he said, "not a problem we have one here in my neighborhood and I'll go by and pick one up for you" Kent was a wonderful man who was always there to answer questions and help with any "Kirbyneeds" you may have. I learned a lot from him, and for that I will be forever grateful.

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Post# 460037 , Reply# 17   2/3/2023 at 22:11 (446 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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I'd usually have Kent install rivets for me. I was calling him quite a bit over the years. I visited him to buy a heritage 2 bag. I spent alot of time talking to Jim about life and about vacuums. I ordered atleast a package twice a week spending over $1000 one year. He sent me a Christmas card thanking me for my business.
I'd call him about polishing and tricks of the trade that helped me alot.
When my mother and father died 2 years apart he was there for personal advice and a great guy to talk to.
I'm getting to a rivet gun made by Milwaukee I acquired. I've not used it on trim yet but what I've been used it on looks great.
It's about $250 plus tax but it's what auto body workers use and it's very nice.

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Post# 460041 , Reply# 18   2/4/2023 at 07:45 (445 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        
Pop rivets

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I don't use pop rivets or blind rivets on my Kirby's I use the ones pictured they are just like the ones used at the factory but slightly larger. The pop or blind rivets have that unsightly hole in the center of the rivet that just doesn't look right to me, so I won't use them.


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Post# 460052 , Reply# 19   2/4/2023 at 17:21 (445 days old) by JustJunque (Western MA)        
Rivet tool

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I don't know if it would be useful for your needs, but there's a tool that people use when restoring vintage pressed steel toys; like Tonka trucks, for example.
I believe the tool is called a Pintonka tool, or something like that.
It's kind of like a c clamp, but made for installing rivets.
Like on Kirbys, the original rivets on the toy trucks don't have the hole in the center like a pop rivet.


Post# 460054 , Reply# 20   2/4/2023 at 17:54 (445 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

lesinutah's profile picture
Don't use pop rivets either. I don't like the way they look. This makes rivets exactly like kirby stock rivets. I initially bought it to install rivets on the inner fender of my wife's rav 4 I drilled out. I have a pop rivet gun it makes them all screwy. I'll try to post a video installing trim with it.

Post# 460066 , Reply# 21   2/5/2023 at 14:54 (444 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        
She's done

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Post# 460069 , Reply# 22   2/5/2023 at 20:07 (444 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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Work on the resto. 36 days in 329 left in the year left to restore more vacuums.

Post# 460099 , Reply# 23   2/6/2023 at 13:08 (443 days old) by gottahaveahoove (Pittston, Pennsylvania, 18640)        

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who is counting, right? :)


Post# 460214 , Reply# 24   2/11/2023 at 13:08 (438 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        

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I was looking at pictures of the 512 from my collection that I sold last year, and I got to say I like this one better. It's in better shape overall. Pictured is the underside of the 512 that I did not add to my last post. Again, I'm pleased with how nice the ID plate looks....It's good to hear from you John.

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Post# 460215 , Reply# 25   2/11/2023 at 13:31 (438 days old) by myvacsrock (USA)        

Always great work by you! Would love to see some running videos. The one you have posted of your Kenmore restoration is a personal favorite! ;)


Slightly off topic: Jim I noticed you had posted a Kenmore upright you wanted to find... I think it's the one I have. Let's chat and see if it's the one you're looking for. I would not mind unloading another vacuum, hehe 

Post# 460229 , Reply# 26   2/12/2023 at 02:03 (437 days old) by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        

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Nicely restore! I have a 512 that I'm planning to ship back to Kirby for a factory rebuild.

Post# 460237 , Reply# 27   2/12/2023 at 09:29 (437 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        
factory restore

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Thanks Alex,

You do know your 512 will not look anything like a 512 when the factory gets done with it. It most likely will be done in all tan trim and bag. And the ID plate will be replaced with a sticker, just something to think about. Doing it yourself might be a better idea. Do you have any pictures of your 512?


Post# 460238 , Reply# 28   2/12/2023 at 09:39 (437 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        

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Thanks so much for the kind words Its good to hear from you. If you have a Kenmore Deluxe I would be interested indeed. Let me know.


Post# 460256 , Reply# 29   2/13/2023 at 01:27 (436 days old) by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        

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Yes I am aware of what Kirby would do to mine, to be honest I could care less about how they would look afterwards. I was sold when I saw a fellow collector here send his older Kirby in for a rebuild and what it came back as.

Post# 460283 , Reply# 30   2/13/2023 at 15:42 (436 days old) by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        

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This is the one that takes F&G style bags but it doesn't have a mini emptor.

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Post# 460861 , Reply# 31   3/2/2023 at 10:01 (419 days old) by VacMadMan (Pueblo Co.)        
In good company

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My Kirby 512 sits on display with good company. I would like to thank everyone for stopping by.


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Post# 460879 , Reply# 32   3/2/2023 at 18:49 (419 days old) by Lesinutah (Utah)        

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It's in great company. Times ticking there's only 298 days left.

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